I’m a painter. And like most painters I know, I sometimes find myself in an anxious, dark place that is the creative block. I find I’d rather do anything else or even nothing else than sit in front of my easel. I have had to work out a strategy for getting through those times, for getting from being stuck to getting into the flow, from being distracted to getting into the zone.
When I don’t feel like painting, the first thing I do is focus on setting up:
• I walk into my studio.
• Pick a project to work on.
• Set up my easel, glass palette, paint box and chair.
• Then I sit down and study my project.
One thing calls out to me and then 100 a hundred things call out for attention. It’s easy to then become overwhelmed at this point. This is the most important step in getting unstuck. I remind myself I can only mix one color at a time. I go back to the first color that I observe in nature—the one that jumps out at me and I focus on mixing that one color, Then I try to focus on making that one color exactly right.
This requires staying present in that one task. It’s not easy. I’m inclined to allow my mind to drift towards other tasks that need doing. But if I can stay razor edge focused on that one first color, things happen. A nice steady pace sets in and tends to keep me going for the rest of my studio time.
Again, I start with my first best guess of what that first color is. Then I look at nature and back at the color I just mixed. I ask the color I just mixed: “What do you need?” over and over again until the color replies, “ I don’t need anything!”, and it starts to sing with the colors around it. I suspect you know that feeling, when things just start to resonate on the canvas.
This is my preferred flow state. To get to this point I periodically close my eyes and take five breaths—thinking only about those breaths. This works as a sort of reset button to clear the cache, quiet the noise, and pick one color.
Artist Chris Gallego offers more tips for getting in the zone: https://www.chrisgallego.com/how-to-paint-when-its-the-last-thing-in-the-world-you-feel-like-doing/
I hope this helps! If you have any tips for overcoming a creative block, leave a note in the comments below.